Lucier Variations

In this piece for tape, modular electronics, and laptop (because why have one type of audio wire when you can use five or six?) I start with a poem or text that has relevance in the location I’m performing. At Thrive, Baltimore,
for example it was poet Lucille Clifton’s “Cutting Greens.” I record this text to tape. The tape then passes through my laptop where the ambience of my studio is applied to it and then it is sent back out to the tape, creating a sort of tape loop without the tape loop. Over time, this audio degrades and becomes a kind of hum or musical feedback depending on a variety of factors that are only apparent in the moment and in the performance space.

I run this audio into my modular synthesizer where I capture a sample of the recording fairly early, before the audio is completely transformed. I can then use this “legible text” within the piece. I allow the text to drive various sounds, rhythms, and textures in the modular synthesizer to create variations on the initial tape process.

In environments where time, space, and budget allows I use two of my Nagra 4.2 1/4″ reel to reel decks for the tape loop and use the laptop only to bring the ambience of my studio to the work. In spatially-challenged or low-time/budget ¬†environments I create the work as described above, using a Nagra SN 1/8″ Full Width tape deck as depicted in the video below.

alvin lucier laptop modular tape